Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Aseya Bistro Orientale

An unexpected text message came my way Friday evening. "I'm on my way to Aseya. See you there." From Blogie. Well, that was a surprise. I knew Aseya was next in line for the Davao Food Trip but I didn't sign up for it. Nevertheless, food is food and free food is free food and free good food is even better, so I went.

Aseya Bistro Orientale is a small Oriental restaurant is housed under Humberto's Hotel along J. Palma Gil. It bills itself as an Oriental restaurant because it offers the whole range of Asian food: Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese; but its primary specialty is in Japanese and Thai food.

On hand to welcome us warmly were the owners of Aseya, Ponchit and Lani Ponce-Enrile. As it turned out, they themselves prepared our sumptuous meal. Ponchit specializes in Thai food, having studied cooking in Thailand; Lani specializes in Japanese. Ponchit pointed out that they get many of their ingredients directly from Thailand.

Aseya has a comfortable yet homey atmosphere: cream-colored walls, curtains, high-backed chairs. It reminds me of an elegant aunt's well-kept house. Just about the only complaint I have is that the ceiling is too low so the sound from the other tables carry over. Other than that, Aseya would be just fine for a family gathering.

And the food! Blogie already posted the full menu for the night so I won't repeat the details. The meal consisted of several savory dishes, all of them suitably Oriental and up to my taste. What did stand out were the kamameshi, the Thai sushi, and the sauteed tofu. The kamamesh was fragrant and nutty; the Thai sushi was delectably different; and the tofu was spicy enough to my liking.

If there's anything that makes a big difference in Aseya's cooking, it's in their generous helping of mushrooms. The mushrooms, Ponchit tells us, is part of their bounty imported from Thailand.

Fortuitously, February 1 also turned out to be Aseya's first anniversary. After dinner, Lani gave us souvenir chopsticks -- again from Thailand. Dark hardwood, carved tips, and a woven wrapper. Very nice. Make sure you visit them on their anniversary.

It was only after dinner that Blogie told me that he had missent the text message to me and I wasn't originally part of the entourage. What to make of it? Meh! With food like Aseya's, it was what I would like to call a happy accident.